D. B. Dhanapala

  (Redirected from DB Dhanapala)

Diyogu Badathuruge Dhanapala was a pioneering Sri Lankan journalist and author.

Diyogu Badathuruge Dhanapala
Died18 March 1971
NationalitySri Lankan
Alma materMahinda College, Galle[1]
Allahabad University
  • Journalist
  • biographer
  • art historian

Early life and careerEdit

Dhanapala was born in Tissamaharama and educated at Mahinda College, Galle and Allahabad University in India. After an early career as a writer and a journalist at the Ceylon Daily News, where he made a name as Janus, in the famous "Blue Page" of the Ceylon Daily News. His pen portraits of the movers and shakers in the then Ceylon made his writing style unique in the country at that time.

After a while his disagreements with the Lake House resulted in him leaving and going on to teaching as the principal of Dharmaloka Vidyalaya Kelaniya. He returned to journalism to found the Lankadeepa, the Sinhala daily which exists to this day as the Sinhala language daily with the largest circulation.

Lankadeepa was unique at the time because it was original journalism in Sinhala. At that time the Dinamina which was the only other Sinhala daily was a translation of the Ceylon Daily News. Lankadeepa had its own reporters, was the first to give its reporters bylines in the stories they reported. It devised a special Sinhala font, and created a linotype for itself. It had its own photographers and created special pages for cinema, literature at the same time creating the first ever Sinhala cartoon strip, Neela.

A note in the back cover of the new edition of Among Those Present, D. B. Dhanapala's most famous book, says although Dhanapala's Sinhala writing was neither prolific nor unique, he attained an almost cult status for his writing in the Daily News.

Nonetheless, this outstanding writer in English was the doyen of Sinhala journalism who served as Chief Editor of the Lankadeepa which broke new ground by becoming the country's first Sinhala daily which was not a translation of an English newspaper.

He was also the founder of the Dawasa Group of Newspapers published by M.D. Gunasena & Company under the name and style of Independent Newspapers of Ceylon Limited challenging the supremacy of Lake House during the waning years of the Times of Ceylon.

Dhanapala's pen portraits were of a mix of people ranging from Anagarika Dharmapala to D.S. and Dudley Senanayake, G.P. Malalalasekara, Oliver Goonetilleke, Herbert Hulugalle, John Kotelawela, Nicholas Attygalle, L.H. Mettananda, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and many more

All this gave the Lankadeepa a special identity, which it retains to this day. Most of the noteworthy journalists in Sinhala were products of the Lankapeepa. This in essence led to D.B.Dhanapala being called the doyen of Sinhala journalism.


Dhanapala started in journalism working at the Ceylon Daily News Newspaper published by the Lake House Group. He later moved on to take up a position as Principal of Dharmaloak Vidyala in Kelaniya. From there he founded the Sinhala newspaper Lankadipa in 1948- a newspaper which has the largest readership today.[2] and commenced a long-standing friendship with fellow reporter PA Ediriweera. The newspaper began as a six column tabloid in 1947 and was a standard seven column daily newspaper by 1949. His ability to influence political thinking in the Sinhala speaking population is believed to have caused concern among the politicians in power in the incumbent government (from the United National Party) as he supported the campaign of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in the 1956 general election.[3]

Career as authorEdit

Dhanapala was a well known biographer of leading personalities in Ceylon and is best known for his book on contemporary political figures Among those Present. His writing also includes work on Buddhist paintings from shrines and temples in Ceylon[4] and the story of Sinhalese paintings.[5]

Travel industryEdit

Together with P. A. Ediriweera he founded the travel firm Ceylon Tours.


The Sri Lanka Press Institute commemorates his memory through the award of the D. B. Dhanapala Award for the Best Journalist.[6]


Dhanapala was married to Rathi Dhanapala teacher, poet, artist and author,[7][8] and his family followed him into the media and creative fields. He was the father of filmmaker D. B. Nihalsinghe and photographer D.B Suranimala[9] who married Ranjini Ediriweera (who acted in the film Wer stirbt schon gerne unter Palmen? (1974)[10] and later joined her brothers as a director of Ceylon Tours) the daughter of his friend and business partner PA Ediriweera.[11]


  1. ^ "A walk down the corridors of Mahinda College". Sunday Times. 6 May 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  2. ^ Gunawardena, Charles A. (2005). DB Dhanapala in Encyclopaedia of Sri Lanka by Charles A Gunawardana page 115. ISBN 9781932705485. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  3. ^ "33rd Death Anniversary of D. B. Dhanapala". Daily News. Archived from the original on 30 December 2004. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  4. ^ Dhanapala, D. B. (1964). Buddhist Paintings : From Shrines and Temples In Ceylon (1st ed.). The New American Library Of World Literature. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  5. ^ Dhanapala, D. B. (1957). The Story of Sinhalese painting. Saman Press. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  6. ^ "When Journalists made news" (PDF). www.thesundayleader.lk. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Remembering a pioneer in education Rathi Dhanapala". sundaytimes.lk. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Detail of painting by Rathi Dhanapala". www.flickr.com. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  9. ^ "The folk drama of Ceylon 2d ed.by E. R. Sarachchandra. Photographs by D. B. Suranimala". openlibrary.org. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  10. ^ "Wer stirbt schon gerne unter Palmen?". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  11. ^ "The Ceylon Tours Legacy continues Daily Mirror 25th October 2011". print.dailymirror.lk. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 2011-01-21.